All right, I’m back, but I’m nowhere close to being up to speed. I’m caught up on Facebook, but I have yet to check e-mail, and what I know about current events I learned from scanning USA Today headlines while glancing at newspaper dispensers at bus stops. So, aside from the fact that John Edwards’s trial ended, Jerry Sandusky’s trial began, and the cheerleader from "Heroes" got a new TV series---hey, I told you I was getting my news from USA Today headlines---what is going on in the world? No, seriously, I’m asking.
Let’s start with the scheduling news, of which there is much. What is most notable is not the fact that the SEC sensibly stuck with an eight-game conference schedule with protected permanent inter-divisional rivalries and a staggered rotation rather than a guaranteed home-and-home set; rather, it’s the fact that the newly-adopted model is a three- or four-year deal, which might be extended, but which cannot be implemented for the long term. Obviously, if you’re cycling through the rotating teams from the other division over a longer period of time rather than playing those teams in two-year blocks, scheduling over a lengthier span is the only way to do this sort of thing, so the league’s reluctance to (a) upset the apple cart by adding a conference game or taking away an existing rivalry, or (b) implement its long-term scheduling plan over the long term suggests strongly that the 14-team SEC is merely a way station en route to a 16-team SEC. They’re scheduling for three or four years out because they believe that, four or five years out, we’re going to have two more teams, and they don’t want to have to undo everything they did to accommodate Missouri and Texas A&M when they have to redo everything to accommodate N.C. State and Virginia Tech.
As I see it, the only meaningful drawback to the 6-1-1 scheduling model is, as MaconDawg noted, the fact that SEC athletic directors will use the extra scheduling spot to line up Division I-AA or Sun Belt patsies. Of course, it doesn’t exactly help us that Ohio State canceled out on us because of the scheduling arrangement between the Big Ten and the Pac-12. Honestly, I’m not terribly worked up over it; we saved the upcoming non-conference series that mattered, and, if this pushes us farther down the road to a similar scheduling arrangement between the SEC and the Big 12, I’m pretty much all right with that.
I’m not sure I understand what we’re doing in basketball, but it doesn’t sound terribly different from what I suggested doing in basketball, so, yeah, fine, whatever. Here’s what I do understand about basketball scheduling: Mark Fox’s Hoop Hounds will be traveling to Tampa to take on the South Florida Bulls on Friday, November 30. Cool.
Other recent moves of note---and forgive me if I miss a few; I haven’t yet had time to parse every thread or read every fanshot since I got back---include the SEC’s decision to sponsor an equestrian championship in the sport the league owns (due to the addition of Texas A&M to a conference that already included Georgia, Auburn, and South Carolina) and Greg McGarity’s decision not to renew Georgia women’s golf coach Kelley Hester’s contract after five straight NCAA Regional appearances but no national finishes higher than tenth. I don’t disagree with McGarity’s decision (and I’m glad it went down differently from our last coaching change in women’s golf), but I have a hard time understanding why the expectations for David Perno are so low that he is not held to the same reasonably high standards set for Jay Clark and Kelley Hester.
Finally, we received some sad news this week, as Craig “Sky” Hertwig passed away. The 6’8” Georgia lineman capped off his playing career by being named All-American, being selected to play in the Senior Bowl, and winning the William Jenkins and J.B. Whitworth Awards. For decades thereafter, Hertwig was an Athens bar owner and local character, as well as being a heck of a nice guy to tailgate with in Jacksonville if you happened to run into him there (and he was kind of hard to miss). Our condolences go out to Sky’s family.